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KC Caruana says Crayons lineup makes for a bright future

KC Caruana says Crayons lineup makes for a bright future

The Albany-based Crayons are starting to make some noise after one of their songs was picked up for
KC Caruana says Crayons lineup makes for a bright future
The Crayons, from left, Joe Freeman, Mike Bolduc, Keith Caruana and Terry McClain, play Tess&acirc;&#128;&#153; Lark Tavern on Friday. Hero Pattern opens the show at 10 p.m.
Photographer: Bruce Squiers

His song can be heard on MTV’s documentary/reality series “Two-A-Days,” which he takes as good news. But he acknowledges that a brief clip on MTV is nowhere near enough exposure to push his Albany band toward hit-maker status.

Besides, it might mean even less than it did decades ago in a fractured cultural marketplace where music fans turn to a number of sources to tune in.

Nonetheless, “I called it a symbolic breakthrough,” said Keith “KC” Caruana, frontman for and brainchild behind The Crayons, an indie pop-rock outfit that sprung up on the Capital Region music scene 18 months ago. “It’s not going to fill my bank account. But we broke the MTV barrier. And in terms of licensing for TV shows and movies, maybe that could lead to something else.”

The song in question is “Not Beautiful,” and it’s off the new Crayons album, “What’s Wrong With You,” a 12-track effort officially released on Near Records in January after a soft release late last year. It’s a catchy, bittersweet ballad that’s emblematic of the band’s youthful sound — quintessential early 21st century pop/rock.

PACKING HIS CRAYONS

The way Caruana describes it when sitting down for a chat at an Albany pub last week, he formed The Crayons in 2000 and has taken it wherever he has moved since, setting up in new cities with new players. And he moves a lot. In recent years, there have been stints in Boston and San Diego, before he returned to his Kearny, N.J., hometown. That’s where he was when he released The Crayons’ first full-length effort, 2003’s “What Color Are You?” This follow-up to the debut EP “236 Astor” brought a previous incarnation of The Crayons on the road. A few stops in Albany led to a few friendships here. And before long, one of those friends invited Caruana to take up residence at his large Albany home.

Now in his own place, Caruana plays host these days, providing a floor or a couch to old New Jersey friends in bands such as Readymade Breakup or Hero Pattern, whenever they’re in town.

“I’ve always lived my life on the fly,” he said. “There was no great purpose [to moving to Albany]. I just came up here. . . . Sometimes a change in atmosphere is what you need to get motivated.”

What he found in Albany was a lineup he believes in: Terry McClain on bass, Mike Bolduc on drums and the newest addition, Joe Freeman, on guitar. Caruana says this latest incarnation, which plays on Friday with Hero Pattern at Tess’ Lark Tavern in Albany, is ready for the road, and there’s some talk of a tour, perhaps first as a scaled down duo with Freeman on electric guitar and Caruana on acoustic.

“One of the things I like about playing with The Crayons is the dynamics of the music. . . . There’s a real range in the songs,” said Freeman, a native of the region who moved back from New York City to be in the band. “And I gravitated toward KC’s use of minor sevenths. It adds a nice extra element, rather than power chords all the time.”

BOOST FROM CHURCHILLS

Over the years, Caruana’s career has gotten a boost thanks to his relationship with notable New York indie pop-rockers The Churchills. Early on, Caruana’s brother sent that band The Crayons’ “Astor” EP. They liked it so much that they called Caruana and offered to produce his first full-length album. The Churchills also produced “What’s Wrong With You” and released it on their Near Records label.

Meanwhile, when it comes to that nagging question of “making it,” Caruana is just as realistic as he is about what MTV will mean for exposure. He said he just wants to tour and earn enough money to make another record, to keep it all self-sustaining. And with the musicians he has found in Albany, he’s feeling good.

“In this world of indie rock, it’s hard to look too far ahead because there are so many variables. But we have the right lineup right now and we’re ready to go on the road.”

The Crayons, with Hero Pattern

Where: Tess’ Lark Tavern, 453 Madison Ave., Albany

When: 10 p.m. Friday

How Much: $5

More Info: 463-9779, www.larktavern.com, www.myspace.com/thecrayonpeople

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